A former student is suing a college in Massachusetts for negligent supervision. Specifically, the 22-year-old student believes the college is to blame for his binge drinking and subsequent assault conviction.
In 2014, he pleaded guilty in Salem Superior Court to punching three students at the college. He allegedly “sucker punched” the students as they were walking across the campus in the early morning hours of February 2nd–an act the trial judge referred to as a “knockout game.”
He broke and dislocated one student’s jaw, requiring it to be wired shut. The attack left another student with a broken orbital bone and sinus, and the third with a split lip. Making matters worse, the defendant then warned a witness not to talk to the police, referencing purported family “Mob” ties. He was therefore convicted of not only assault and battery causing serious bodily injury but also witness intimidation charges.
At his criminal sentencing hearing, he attempted to excuse his behavior by explaining that he’d been binge drinking and taking performance-enhancing drugs. He was sentenced to four years imprisonment. Shortly thereafter, his attorney filed a motion to revise and revoke the sentence, arguing that his actions were motivated by a “total lack of sobriety.” The judge denied the motion without prejudice. Last year, he was released on parole and moved back to New Jersey.
On February 1 of this year, three years after the assault charges and just before the statute of limitations expired, the former student filed a civil lawsuit. His claims fall under Massachusetts’ social host liability law, which renders it illegal for anyone over 21 to supply alcohol or knowingly encourage underage drinking. He argues that the school implicitly condoned underage drinking, therefore violating the school’s duty of care to protect its students from foreseeable harm.
Specifically, the claim alleges that the school’s failure (the school’s president is also listed as a defendant) to enforce legal drinking on campus resulted in his becoming so severely intoxicated that he was rendered unable to conform his actions to the requirements of the law.
In his criminal case, his lawyers argued that underage drinking was a serious problem on the campus. The civil lawsuit places blame on the college and the president, stressing that the plaintiff had an honorable reputation and was known on campus as shy, peaceful, kind, and amiable. It was the school’s drinking culture, the case alleges, that lowered his inhibitions to the point that he responded violently to perceived provocations, including a snowball being thrown at him.
The claim argues that the college breached its special duty to protect its students and was therefore negligent. For example, the plaintiff’s 21-year-old roommate was permitted to have alcohol in his dorm room, despite the fact that he shared the living space with the 19-year-old plaintiff. As damages, he claims loss of reputation and pain and suffering.
The college and president have refused to comment.
If you have been harmed because of someone else’s negligence, you may need the assistance of a personal injury lawyer to seek compensation. At the Neumann Law Group, our Massachusetts attorneys provide trustworthy legal representation to victims all over the state. Contact us toll-free at 800-525-NEUMANN or use our online form to set up a free consultation.
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